Australian Olympian, Giaan Rooney, has a unique perspective on health and fitness. Since making waves in the pool, she hasn't slowed down.
The TV presenter and mother of two is now the author of a children's book, Lemon the Llama, about a misfit llama who learns that our differences make us special.
We spoke to Giaan about her approach to diet and fitness.
How would you sum up your general philosophy on supporting your health?
Health is a top priority for myself and my family. I always ate well and trained regularly while swimming, but these lessons have actually stuck with me since retiring. And since becoming a mother, the importance of supporting my and my family’s health has become even more apparent.
I make sure Sam (Giaan’s husband), the kids and I eat a balanced diet and we encourage each other to keep active, especially outdoors.
What's your favourite go-to recipe, and what do you love about it?
I wouldn't say I'm a brilliant cook, but I love providing my family with tasty, nutritious meals that they enjoy.
A favourite is my nachos/chilli con carne mix, where I use turkey mince, a can of lentils instead of beans, frozen spinach and wholegrain brown rice chips to bump up the nutritional value.
I also add lentils, frozen spinach and grated sweet potato to as many dishes as I can to 'sneak' in as much of the good stuff as possible!
Has your basic diet changed much since your swimming days?
People always used to say, 'It must be so nice to not be on a diet anymore!' when I retired from swimming, but when you’re doing up to seven hours of exercise a day, you can eat as much as you want!
I actually found it really difficult to cut my portion sizes and snack less after retiring. It took me a couple of years to figure out how much food I actually needed now that I wasn't doing the exercise to burn it off.
What's your main form of exercise these days, and how do you fit it into your busy life as a mum with a career?
I try to fit in two Pilates classes a week. It's important, not only for my strength, mental clarity and flexibility, but to keep an old disc injury at bay.
I also try to incorporate incidental exercise into my life as much as possible; using the stairs, parking at the back of a car park, playing chasey with my kids on the beach. It all adds up!
Are probiotics a part of your family's routine?
I've been taking Life-Space since I fell pregnant with my first son, Zander, over five years ago. Since then, I’m the brand’s ambassador!
At the time, I was looking for ways to support my general health, so I did my own research, which all led to the importance of gut health and bacterial diversity - and I found out we've only just scratched the surface of the importance of our microbiome!
I took Life-Space Probiotic for Pregnancy & Breastfeeding to support my general wellbeing while I was pregnant and while I breastfed both of my children. Once they were weaned, they went on to Life-Space Probiotic Powder for Baby and Probiotic Powder for Children to support a healthy microbiome.
What’s exciting is that Life-Space has just launched two new products to replace Life-Space Probiotic for Pregnancy & Breastfeeding.
Life-Space Pregnancy Probiotic contains 15 strains of beneficial bacteria and is formulated to support a healthy microbiome and general health and wellbeing. Life-Space Breastfeeding Probiotic contains 10 strains of beneficial bacteria, including two naturally found in breastmilk, combined with iodine and vitamin D and supports a healthy microbiome and general health and wellbeing.
Personally, I now take Life-Space Broad Spectrum Probiotic to support a healthy microbiome and add the Life-Space Immune Support Probiotic during winter, as it helps to reduce the severity of common cold symptoms. I then change over to Life-Space Triple Strength Probiotic if I'm ever taking antibiotics as it assists in maintaining healthy levels of digestive flora following the use of antibiotics.
My parents are both supporting their digestive health with Life-Space Probiotic for 60+ Years and my husband supports a healthy microbiome with Broad Spectrum Probiotic so my WHOLE family is on the journey!
What health innovations do you find promising?
I think the most exciting change is that we've started looking at a person's health individually rather than as a 'one size fits all' model.
I look forward to the future, where each person has a detailed knowledge of their personal health challenges and how to best minimise the impact of them.
What's one kind of food or exercise you just can't handle, even though you know it's good for you?
I hate the 'floury' texture of peas, kidney beans and chickpeas - so unless they're well-hidden or disguised, they aren't included in my diet!
You also won't ever find me doing laps these days... in fact, I haven't swum a single lap since the day I retired over 13 years ago!
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. Supplements should not replace a balanced diet. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.